OREDP II Consultation
At the March meeting of Clare County Council, I brought a Notice of Motion with regards to the consultation on the 2nd Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan currently being undertaken by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications.
I have huge concerns as to how the Department have drawn out the draft Broad Area of Interest off the West Coast of County Clare, and I wanted to make sure Clare County Council made a robust submission to the OREDP II and took a number of issues into consideration when doing so.
These concerns are all relevant with regards to what i insider to be self imposed risks the State is placing on its capacity to deliver against a) its own stated aim of meeting a target of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030, or indeed the 2GW target ring-fenced for floating offshore; b) the strategic outputs from Shannon Estuary Economic Task Force and of both Shannon Foynes Port and Moneypoint
- The area of interest identified for offshore wind projects starts approximately 3km off the west coast of Clare, probably our most valuable tourism asset. The associated turbines are approximately the height of the Eiffel tower, and if developed this close to the shore will be extremely overbearing. The liklihood of challenges from local communities is very high with consequential delays in delivery and knock on impact on delivering against our 2030 target.
- The broad area of interest is very heavily fished by the inshore fleet, for prawns, brown crab and lobster in particular. Our inshore fishermen and women will be rightly peeved due to the potential impacts on their activities. Again, the Department will be bringing a level of antagonism, and consequential opposition and delays, to the development of offshore wind by doing something it really doesn’t need to.
- The suggested broad area of interest has water depths only up to 100m, industry research considers this to be too shallow. Mooring systems in harsh wind, wave and climates such as we have off the coast of Clare are far more more dificult to design, engineer and maintain for sites with shallower water depths, and will present much higher CAPEX and OPEX costs relative to those in a deeper depth range.. it will therefore be much harder to attract investors, again, placing another unneccessary blockage in the pathway of these developments and delivery against our 2030 offshore targets
- The chill factor for external investors to get involved with these projects is already evident, both Simply Blue and ESB have lost significant investors in the past due to the pace of progress by the Government, and will be further exacerbated by the limitations of this area of interest, and likely risk the entire floating offshore wind development off this county.
- Lastly, when we overlay a map of the current area as proposed excludes a very significant portion of the Moneypoint 1 site, all of Moneypoint 2, Western Star and Rian, as well as a significant portion of Claurus and Inis West 2 and some of Inis West 1. This obviously raises significant doubts around the deliverability of all these projects and their attractiveness for the external investment needed to bring them to production. It is also worth noting there are only three Broad Areas of Interest identified by the Department off the coast of Ireland, one off the South Coast, one of the North West coast and one off the coast of Clare. The are involved off the North West is approximately 10,000 KM sq, the area of the South Coast is almost 7,000 KM sq and the area of County Clare is approximately 2,000 KM sq… which seems hardly equitable given the wealth of deep water, onshore zoned land and capacity for grid connection at Moneypoint.
The stated intention of the OREDPII is to “identify areas best suited for ORE”. From what I can see here, that intention has been completely missed. The Broad areas of interest are not broad enough and the entire process as outlined to us in OREDP II is firmly placing all the risks associated with the non delivery of the offshore and floating energy target of 7GW by 2030 back on the Government due to Departmental decisions, rather than placing the risks of non delivery with the industry.
An appropriate broad area of interest should have water depths up to 250m and and include all the locations identified by the industry, and let industry make determinations as to feasibility based on technological constraints rather than a line drawn on a map by someone in an office in Dublin.
I also raised the matter of the decision to locate the public consultation events so far away from the communities most affected. It is utterly disrespectful that the Department chose not to have any consultation event in West Clare, given the coast of Clare is one of only three areas of interest published. I requested the CE of Clare County Council also raise this matter separately and directly with the Minister. State consultation with communities is almost always tokenistic, but in this instance, the Department haven’t even stretched themselves to that, it is quite simply unacceptable that the community most affected isn’t included in the consultation process.